At one time, UCLA dominated the college basketball scene when John Wooden was coach.
But since Wooden left in 1975, the Bruins have had more success than the Gophers, their opponent in Friday night’s NCAA tournament game, but more coaches as well.
Wooden left with a 620-147 record at UCLA along with 10 NCAA championships. Since then, the team has gone 852-349 with eight coaches: Gene Bartow, Gary Cunningham, Larry Brown, Larry Farmer, Walt Hazzard, Jim Harrick, Steve Lavin and Ben Howland. In his 10th season with UCLA, Howland is the longest-tenured coach at the school since Wooden.
Still, despite the school’s .709 winning percentage since Wooden left, they have only won one NCAA championship, with Harrick in 1995. Howland is the only other coach to have taken the team to a championship game since Wooden, losing 73-57 against Florida in 2006, the first of three consecutive Final Four appearances for the Bruins.
To give an idea of how different the coaching culture is at UCLA consider this: since the year that Wooden left, the Gophers have gone 658-478 for a .579 winning percentage and have only had six coaches in that time: Jim Dutcher, Jimmy Williams, Clem Haskins, Dan Monson, Jim Molinari and Tubby Smith. And Williams and Molinari were only interim coaches for part of a season.
In that span the Gophers have made the NCAA tournament 11 times — that’s counting four trips, including their 1997 Final Four appearance, vacated due to an academic fraud sanction.
As for this season, the Gophers and Bruins have shared only two opponents. The Gophers beat Stanford and Southern California in nonconference play before the new year; UCLA went 3-1 against those two Pacific-12 foes, losing at home to USC.
One thing in the Gophers’ favor is that the Bruins start four freshmen, part of the No.1 recruiting class in the country last year.
The Gophers are a three-point favorite according to the Vegas books. Nate Silver of the New York Times gave the Gophers a 61.9 percent chance of beating UCLA while ESPN.com’s Giant Killers blog gave them a 74 percent chance of victory.
Hollins’ UCLA history
Lionel Hollins, father of Gophers guard Austin and coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, was a member of the Arizona State basketball team in 1975 that lost to UCLA in the NCAA West Regional final.
Now the young Hollins will try and gain revenge for his father.
That was the final year of Wooden’s great career, and his big star was Marques Johnson who went on to become a standout for the Bucks in the NBA.
Not many athletes in this town contribute more to charities than Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, along with his wife, Jenni. On Wednesday, the Greenway family launched their third “Chad’s Locker” at an area children’s hospital, this one at the Hudson (Wis.) Hospital and Clinics.
The locker provides patients and their families access to technology as a means of relaxation and communication. It includes kid-friendly laptops, iPads and video game systems. The locker will provide an outlet for thousands of patients and families.
• How badly does Kentucky want to recruit Tyus Jones, the Apple Valley junior point guard ranked by many as the No. 1 recruit in the country? After Kentucky got beat in the first round of the NIT by Robert Morris on Monday night in Pittsburgh, Wildcats coach John Calipari flew in Tuesday to watch Jones score 19 points and add seven assists in an 81-67 victory over Brainerd in the Class 4A state quarterfinals.
• Edina guard Graham Woodward, who is committed to Penn State, scored 40 points in a 99-61 state tournament victory over Andover. The Hornets’ Reggie Lynch, who is headed for Illinois State, contributed 24 points in the victory.
• Matt Spaeth, the former Gophers tight end who started his pro career with Pittsburgh and played the past two years with the Chicago Bears, has signed a free-agent deal to return to the Steelers. Spaeth, who will be entering his seventh NFL season, had only six catches for 28 yards and one touchdown last season with Chicago, although he played in all 16 games and started eight of them.
• Jasper Brinkley, the former Vikings linebacker who signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals, played in 48 games here over a four-year period but started only 19 games. Rest assured the Vikings will select a linebacker with one of their top draft choices because they need help at that position more than any other.
• Gophers hockey recruits Taylor Cammarata and Justin Kloos, both playing for Waterloo of the United States Hockey League, are the top two scorers in the league. Cammarata, of Plymouth, has 33 goals and 44 assists in 49 games while Kloos, of Lakeville, has 24 goals and 48 assists in 44 games for the Black Hawks. … Gophers recruit Mike Brodzinski, of Blaine, is sixth among USHL defensemen in scoring with 14 goals and 15 assists in 54 games for Muskegon. … Vinni Lettieri is on a tear. The former Minnetonka High School athlete and Gophers recruit has three goals and seven assists in his past five games for Lincoln and now has 21 goals and 27 assists in 53 games.
• Former Gopher Nico Sacchetti has 25 goals and 29 assists in 33 games for HYS The Hague, which is in the playoffs of the Netherlands pro hockey league.
• Timberwolves President Chris Wright explained how busy the team is trying to sell season tickets for next year: “Obviously it’s a roller-coaster ride and sports are cyclical. We’re blessed to have 10,000 season-ticket holders, so our base is higher than it has been since 2004-2005. That really leaves us with 8,000 tickets on a game-by-game basis in the bowl and 1,000 tickets on our suite level. What we try to do is put a plan together from a group sales standpoint, a single-game standpoint, to maximize sales inside of those areas. You find different ways to be able to move the market into the arena to be able to support your team and create a home-court advantage.”
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m.